As a Connecticut divorce and family lawyer since 1998, attorney Eric Posmantier understands that the divorce process can be overwhelming for clients. Although divorce is often a complex process, it doesn’t have to be something that is confusing for you or your family. That is why, from the earliest stages of working with our firm, Attorney Posmantier will walk you through the divorce process step by step, answer your questions, and obtain the information necessary to address all aspects of your divorce in Connecticut. Below is a very brief overview of what the divorce process generally entails.
The Divorce Process
1. Initial Attorney Meeting
No two divorces are alike. We will analyze your spouse’s and your background, finances, and if the divorce involves children, your children and their needs.
In most circumstances, we do not charge for the initial meeting. In lieu of a fee, as a “pay it forward” initiative, if you feel the consult was valuable, we ask only that you make a donation of any amount to a charitable organization called Give Kids the World.
2. Grounds For Divorce
You do not need to prove grounds for the divorce beyond that the marriage has “broken down irretrievably”. There are other grounds allowed for divorce in Connecticut, which should be discussed with your attorney. Learn More
3. Court Filing
In order to officially start the divorce process, the filing party must complete and serve on the other party the following three forms:
The timing and method of service of process should be carefully considered because it will set the tone for the weeks and months to follow.
4. Next Steps
The next steps usually involve the negotiation of a parenting plan (if applicable), and the exchange of information, such as financial institution statements. The latter part is often called “the discovery process”. Additionally, each party is required to complete a document called a “financial affidavit”. The financial affidavit must be completed carefully because it is sworn under oath, and ultimately becomes the cornerstone of the final negotiation or trial.
Once the discovery process is completed, a financial negotiation will occur. That negotiation can occur through each party’s counsel, or with the help of a neutral facilitator (such as an attorney-mediator or judge-mediator).
5. The Final Steps or Trial
Prior to the pandemic, upon settlement, at least one party had to go to court for a relatively quick final divorce hearing in front of a judge. Recently, the rules changed whereby all of the necessary settlement documents can be submitted electronically, and a court appearance is no longer required. Instead, the judge reviews the documents at his or her leisure, and then a notice is sent out to both parties indicating whether the settlement documents have been approved by the judge. If they are approved, then a final judgment of divorce is entered immediately.
If the parties to the divorce cannot reach an agreement on all issues, then the court will schedule a trial to occur. Trial dates usually occur 12 to 24 months following the commencement of the divorce action.
Division of Assets & Liability
Connecticut is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that the judge has tremendous discretion to distribute between the parties all assets and liabilities that exist at time of divorce, regardless of when or how the same were acquired. An “equitable” division is one that’s fair in the eyes of the parties (in the event of an agreement) or judge (in the event of a trial). “Fair” is not necessarily the same as “equal”.
Prior to dividing assets and debts, it is imperative to identify and accurately assess the value of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, including, but not limited to:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Business entities
- Stocks, bonds and investments
- Pension plans and retirement accounts
- Credit card debts
- Car Loans
- Other unpaid bills
If the parties do not reach an agreement on their own, the court determines how the property is to be divided after considering evidence from each party, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Causes for the dissolution of the marriage
- Amount and sources of income
- Employability and earning capacity
Child Support & Alimony
Both parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their children. As a place to begin, Connecticut uses the Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of support to be paid by each parent to the other. Our attorneys will advise on how best to use these Guidelines to support your position.
Parenting Issues (“Custody”)
Creating a workable parenting plan can often be the most emotional and difficult part of a divorce process. Our attorneys work to help resolve parenting disputes as quickly and painlessly as possible. There are two main categories of parenting issues to be addressed:
- Legal Custody: This is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Normally, joint legal custody is awarded to the parties. In extreme circumstances, usually where mental health or substance abuse is a concern, or parents are completely unable to parent together, the court might award sole legal custody to one parent or the other.
- Physical Custody: This, essentially, refers to the parenting schedule. A determination of each parent’s “parenting time” with the children, and the children’s school enrollment, are most important when considering physical custody.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
Alimony is the money one spouse must pay to support the other spouse. Connecticut courts grant alimony on a case-by-case basis. The court must weigh several factors to determine whether spousal support is appropriate, as well as the duration of the obligation. Those factors include, but are not limited to the length of marriage, age, health, income and job skills of each spouse. (See Connecticut General Statutes section 46b-82)